Are there many meals as delicious as a homemade pepperoni pizza, fresh out of the oven? Not really. Some people like the greasiness of a pizza delivered from the local shop, while others prefer the gourmet delicacy of a pie from an artisan pizzeria; either way, the comforting taste and warm, melting cheese, fluffy dough and zesty tomato sauce is the perfect meal.


But, while pizza may be a very simple dish consisting of just a few ingredients (dough, cheese, sauce, toppings if desired), there’s actually quite a bit of work that goes into creating the perfect pizza – especially if you are making the dough yourself. If pepperoni is on the menu, you’re looking at a few more tricks and necessary steps. Here are some important things you need to know about creating the perfect pepperoni pizza at home.

1. Salt that Dough
Salt is an important part of dough for two reasons; one, it helps it rise and get the proper texture when baking. Two, it adds some flavor. Dough is little more than bread, but it doesn’t have to be boring or the least exciting part of the pizza, as many people think. Adding salt can help bring out the flavor of the dough – and the sauce, too.

2. Crank Up The Heat

Making the perfect pizza requires heat – and a lot of it, which is why you’ll want to crank the temperature in your oven up as high as it will go. A traditional, wood-fired, brick pizza oven can get up to 800F, baking a pizza thoroughly in just a couple minutes.

Your oven likely can’t quite reach a temperature that extreme,  ovens will still likely reach around 550F – maybe 600F at the most. Crank it all the way up and let it preheat for a while.

3. Use A Pizza Stone

If you are using your regular oven, you’ll also want to get your hands on the best pizza stone you can find.

A pizza stone will – in conjunction with the hottest temperature your oven can handle  – give you the crispy, flavorful crust that so characterizes a delicious pizza. By transferring heat to the crust much faster and more evenly than your oven rack can, a pizza stone imitates the surface and cooking properties of a brick oven, and helps your crust cook perfectly and evenly all throughout.

Be sure to let the pizza stone heat up adequately, too; it can take a full 30-45 minutes in the oven for it to reach the blazing hot, even temperature you need for the perfect crust. So plan ahead and prepare to pre-heat, and you’ll avoid the soggy, half-done crust that often accompanies homemade pizza.

4. Put The Pepperoni On Top Of The Cheese

Some people think putting the cheese over the toppings is better, and if you like it that way, sure. But by putting the pepperoni on top of the cheese, you’ll actually improve the pizza’s taste; the heat of the oven will help release all the oils in the pepperoni, bringing them to the surface and helping accentuate the pepperoni’s flavor against the cheese and crust, resulting in a perfect slice. If you put the slices of pepperoni under the cheese, the melting cheese will prevent this, resulting in very different flavor and a bit more of a goulash texture as the finished product.

5. Don’t go Crazy With The Toppings

This is a pepperoni pizza you’re making, not a Meat Lover’s. Not that there is anything wrong with meat lover’s, but a pizza with just pepperoni done right is a more exquisite experience than one absolutely decked out in toppings. Less toppings means a more evenly cooked, well-done crust – and allows the sauce and cheese to really come through.

Flooring - Is Laminate or Real Wood Best?

Whether you have just built a new home, or are considering a change to your current flooring, perhaps you are intrigued by the addition of wood. There is nothing more classic than hardwood floors. It is found in the most expensive of homes and lends a certain charm to every room. Real wood flooring, while beautiful, is also expensive. It may or may not be the right choice for you. This article will explore the terms laminate and wood flooring and why you should be familiar with their individual meanings.

Laminate flooring is a material that is manufactured to give the appearance of real wood without the hefty price tag. The most economical choice for homeowners on a budget, laminate flooring features synthetic materials that are accompanied by a number of benefits. Laminate flooring is generally water resistant and features several layers of material to provide protection to the structure of your floor. There are many brands of laminate flooring and most quality products offer generous warranty. Being prone to chipping and the inability to be repaired are among the disadvantages of laminate flooring. Generally if laminate flooring becomes damaged then the entire board must be replaced.

Real wood flooring, on the other hand, uses authentic wood to act as the home’s floor. Genuine hardwood floors are much more expensive than their laminate competitors, but offer several advantages if you can afford their higher price tag. Solid wood flooring, for example, offers the ability to sand the material numerous times. This allows for the easy removal and repair of surface problems or cosmetic imperfections. Wood flooring can be repaired multiple times without the need for replacement. At the same time, wood flooring is very susceptible to cracks and may easily react to the environment. If damp, wood tends to swell and may even suffer from rotting if not properly treated. Wood flooring can be difficult to keep in good condition, but there are products to help maintain its beauty. These types of wood flooring restoration products can easily be found online or at a local home improvement center.

The decision to purchase either laminate or authentic wood floors ultimately comes down to a simple case of economics. Solid wood floors can add significant value to a home but come with a hefty cost themselves. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, gives you the look of authentic wood flooring without the price. Not necessarily increasing the value of a home in the same way as a real wood floor does, laminate flooring lends beauty and affordability to every room of the house.


spring wreaths

I love decorating the front porch. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s such a small space that I’m not overwhelmed at the thought of pulling it together! Plus it feels so happy and inviting to me when I come home and see a pretty space.

The porch has been largely neglected since we moved to the Florida house. I did put out a Christmas wreath and a Valentine’s wreath, but that was it.

The worst part was this dinky little rug in front of the big double front doors:

I didn’t do anything about the rug for a couple of different reasons. 1. I didn’t want to spend big bucks on a rug that was more to scale and 2. I really just didn’t know where to start or even what kind of color scheme I wanted.

The catalyst to the transformation was the white bench that I painted last week:

And then Target had a sale on outdoor rugs.  I managed to get this 4 x 5 navy blue and white chevron rug for around $12 (The rug was on a 20% off sale for $22 and I had a $10 gift card.) Hubby was a little surprised as I have stubbornly avoided chevron anything for a very long time. Maybe I have been brainwashed, because I well remember how I did not get the whole chevron craze. And to be honest, I went in Target looking for a yellow rug. But this navy blue chevron just called my name!

And when I paired it with the white bench, I knew I was onto something!

The next step was to add some flowers. I went to Lowes and decided on an already arranged bowl of annuals because, well, flowers are not really my thing.  While I was there, I saw the cutest turquoise pillow with a navy blue bird on it. I knew it would be perfect with the rug and the almost turquoise color of the front doors. But it wasn’t on sale. And it was $13.98. So, of course, I didn’t buy it.

For the whole next week I thought about how cute that pillow would look on the bench. Finally, I justified buying it by giving my husband a haircut instead of sending him to the barber.  The next chance I got I stopped in Lowes with the three little kids in tow. We searched all over the garden section but couldn’t find the turquoise pillow with the blue bird. We found green ones and we found red ones and even navy blue ones. The closest thing they had to the bird pillow was a turquoise one with a blue frog. I stood there staring at it thinking about how it still tied the colors together and how my husband loves and sort of collects frogs. I debated for as long as I was able given that a 9 year old, a 5 year old and a 3 year old were with me and wondering why on earth I kept standing there staring at a frog pillow!! Finally, I decided to buy it.

But sometimes I can have OCD tendencies. (Those of you who know me better not be laughing!) And I still thought the bird would be perfect even though the frog would do. Guess what my super sweet husband did. Yes, he did. He traipsed around to two additional Lowes until he found a turquoise pillow with a navy blue bird.

I’ll show you both in a minute. I found a yellow pillow on sale at Jo Ann that co-ordinated beautifully and threw together a couple of spring wreaths. (Tutorial for the wreaths to follow next week.)

spring wreaths

After much rambling, here is the spring porch:

A close up of the vignette with the white painted bench:

Now, what do you think? Frog or bird?

  • FROG
  • BIRD

Which one would you choose? Let me know in the comments!

It’s so much fun to get the house decked out for spring! Have you done any spring decorating at your house?



Have a great weekend everyone! I’ll be back on Monday with an update to this week’s plans and a new plan for the new week.

old master in new york

I remember a conversation I had with my mother in law years ago. We were sitting in the living room of a house my husband and I had owned for about five years. It was our first house purchase and while I was thrilled to own a home, I was completely intimidated by the thought of decorating it. My mother in law is a natural at decorating and I remember telling her that I’d never have a decorated home because I just had no idea what I even liked.

I never did decorate that home. I stayed paralyzed by the prospect until we moved and I became a renter again. And I discovered decor blogs.  I think the blog that helped me the most was The Nester who promises that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. I began to experiment a little. One of my first purchases was the pair of loud turquoise lamps that I use on my bedside tables. At first we used black shades with them but we quickly got tired of the color scheme. I liked the turquoise but the black didn’t fit.

old master in new york

I was really drawn to blogs featuring houses with soft colors like The Nester and Miss Mustard Seed but I also really loved the bright colors used by Young House Love. I seemed to be in style confusion. Pinterest helped some. I started a board called What’s My Decorating Style and just pinned whatever I liked. I finally started to see some patterns. I really was more drawn to whites and soft colors than I was to the brighter hues that I usually purchased. I also realized that I like vintage items but I like to pair them with more modern lines and colors, like I did in the master bedroom.

The last time you saw the master bedroom it looked like this:

Master with reveal bulbs after

I knew I wanted to change the color of the curtain rod and the sickly pink frame surrounding the Van Gogh print was driving my crazy. I loved the gold framed Van Gogh I saw in the House Beautiful magazine in January:

house beautiful pic

I debated and debated about colors. I considered spray painting the curtain rod gold and painting the frame gold. I mentioned this to hubby thinking it would work as I have a large wedding photo in a gold Baroque style frame that has always hung in the master bedroom (you can see it in the top picture of the old master). His answer surprised me. He said he never thought that frame was “me.” Huh. That gave me pause. I looked back at my Pinterest board at the many pictures with grays and whites and soft pastels and decided maybe silver would be better than gold.

I decided to go for it and bought a can of Valspar spray paint in brushed nickle. I didn’t want it to be too shiny. I wanted a softer silver tone. I gave the rod one coat of primer and two coats of spray paint. I love how it turned out:

I had no intention of risking taking that large slab of glass out of my picture frame, so I taped off the glass and painted the frame by hand with some silver acrylic paint I had on hand.

metallic paint

It took three coats to cover (luckily there was enough paint in that little tub for 3 coasts plus some left over!) but it didn’t take long before the frame looked so. much. better.

master bedroom little closer

When I got everything hung up, things started to come together and make sense. I realized my daffodil painting would look perfect hanging over my nightstand. And I was ready to let go of the loud turquoise lamp on that side. I grabbed my large white lamp with the gray shade from upstairs and stuck it on the nightstand. Perfect!! My mind started twirling with the possibilities. I ran to the closet and grabbed my furry gray throw pillow and a duvet cover someone gave me with soft turquoise and gray and brown tones to throw across the foot of the bed. Then I stepped back and breathed a big sigh of relief. Those turquoise lamps had been driving me crazy and I didn’t even realize it! The space feels so much more like me now. I made all the kids and the husband come look. I thought they’d be as awed as I was. I pretty much got a lot of “that’s nice Mom” comments.

Master bed room

mb side view

While I was working on this little nook, I received an e-mail from One Kings Lane asking me if I’d like to check out their new Home Decor Resource Guide. If you are struggling to define your style, check it out. It is a terrific resource which includes a Home Decor Shopping Handbook and detailed descriptions with photos of furniture styles all through history. I could literally lose hours browsing around.

One article I found in the resource verifies that you do not have to be a professional to have a nicely decorated home. 9 Easy Ways to Add a Sense of Luxury to Any Roomgives some beautiful, easy and even some free ways to upgrade your space.

Orange rocker white cube

Enter one short bar stool that was gifted to us by a friend dh and the boys helped move…


It was fine as is. But I really needed to paint something. Plus, the little 2 drawer cube I had sitting beside my orange chair in my bedroom wasn’t working.

Orange rocker white cube

It was a little low for a side table and I thought it would work better for storage in the closet anyway.

Since I decided to use the bar stool as a side table in my bedroom, turquoise was the obvious choice for paint color. The only problem is that I’m getting a little weary with the turquoise and I’m leaning more towards softer colors. I’ve been trying to pin down my style for a long time, and I really think I lean towards a farmhouse or cottage style. I may do a separate post on that when I learn a little more about the different styles.

Now, I’m not ready to completely chuck the turquoise — just tone it down a bit. So I took a little sample pot of turquoise paint I had on hand (the same one I used to paint the sailboat art’s sail here) and added some white paint. I was surprised how much the white paint diluted the turquoise. I had to add quite a bit more turquoise back in and finally wound up with a color close to a robin’s egg blue.

I left it just like this for about a week because I wasn’t sure I wanted to distress it. No one in the house wanted me to distress it, but that wasn’t a good measure because I’m the only one that likes that look anyway.  Finally, I decided it was too boring. I had read about using steel wool instead of sandpaper to distress and decided to give that a try.

Steel wool

The steel wool left a hint of charcoal color on the paint which fit in with the distressed look quite nicely, but it was taking WAY too long to get down to the wood.

I switched to 100 grit sandpaper and finished in no time.

Distressed stool top

I put one coat of antique glaze on the whole thing and called it done. I opted not to use poly because I didn’t want the finish to be too shiny. I’m still considering how to protect it but for now it’s enjoying it’s new home.

Orange rocker white cube

Orange rocker bar stool closer

Bar stool distressing close up1

You may have noticed that the throw pillow changed from the first picture of the orange rocker to the second one. About four days before Valentine’s Day I decided to make another pillow to go with my Valentine pillow collage. I felt like a little white pillow would go perfectly and when I saw this pattern on Pinterest, I jumped on it. I crocheted like crazy to finish it in time, but alas, I was a day late. I wasn’t about to let all that hard work go to waste so I decided to use the pillow in the bedroom — at least until next Valentine’s Day.

Crocodile pillow

The front is covered with crocodile stitches and the back is just double crochet.

Crocodile pillow back

It was a pretty easy and quick project although the crocodile stitches got a little annoying after a while.

Bedroom sitting area before:

Orange rocker white cube

Bedroom sitting area after:

Orange rocker bar stool

Now if I can just scrape up enough gumption to re-upholster that rocker!!

Valentine tablescape

Valentine tablescape

I love Valentine’s Day. I used to tell people that it was my very favorite holiday. It seemed a little inappropriate for a priest’s wife to have Valentine’s Day as her *favorite* holiday, so I stopped announcing it.

Since I’ve had kids, Valentine’s Day has been more about the food than the decor. You know, making sure they have heart shaped blueberry muffins for breakfast and heart shaped cupcakes for dessert that night. Maybe if I’m feeling extra spunky I’ll use the heart cookie cutter to make festive sandwiches for lunch. Or maybe dd11 will do it…

Now that I’m a home blogger, the holiday is about the decor, too.  I had some fun last year in the school room…

Valentines 2013

And I even got back in to sewing a little bit with an elaborate burlap and felt heart pillow inspired by a post I saw on Tatertots and Jello.

Here is what I’ve done in the new house:

I must have searched through 20 boxes in the garage looking for that Valentine burlap pillow cover I made last year. I found it in the painted trunk which is right where I wanted to display it. {sigh} One pillow alone on the trunk looked kinda sad so I took some fabric I picked up at Michaels at Christmastime and wrapped it around a pillow form as suggested in this tutorial. I’m working on a white crocheted pillow cover to add to the scene, but I used dd5’s giant Valentine teddy bear named “Beary” to round things out for now.

Valentine pillows

I gathered things from around the house to set up this vignette on the antique desk in the entryway. (My very sweet hubby brought the flowers home for no special reason.)

valentine foyer close up

valentine foyer vignette

valentine roses on antique desk

The heart form hanging on the mirror belongs to my oldest daughter. She graciously allowed me to use it to complete the little Valentine moment. The candlesticks and birds I’ve had hanging around for a while and the pink doilie I crocheted close to 20 years ago! {gulp! TWENTY years ago?!?! Really!?!?!}

Remember the burlap wreath I made for fall with the apples? I removed all the apples and replaced them with hearts from Dollar Tree. I spent $4 on flower bunches that had styrofoam hearts included.

I’m thinking this burlap wreath is going to be quite useful in the months ahead. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Shamrocks, Easter eggs, American flags…

valentine wreath supplies

I pulled the styrofoam hearts out of the plastic flower bouquets and attached them to the wreath. Dh thinks it looks too sparse. I agree with him but don’t want to trek all the way to Michaels or spend any more money on Valentine decor, so we’re going minimalist on the Valentine burlap wreath this year. Maybe next year I’ll beef it up with some red bead garland or a big red bow. Here’s how it looks for now:

valentine burlap wreath

I rarely ever do themed tablescapes because it takes me forever to place everything just right. When I was digging around in the garage for the pillow cover, I ran across a box of table linens. When I saw white and red tablecloths, I knew I’d have to play around with it this year. Before I ironed a thing, I started tossing things on the table just to see how I liked the look.

Then I set up an ironing station and ironed from the bottom of the table up so I could put things directly on the table as I ironed them:

In the meantime, I had big kids washing all of my Corelle plates and my silverware. We got a little behind on dishes but they actually didn’t complain at all about helping out their ole ma. I thought about using the Noritake china we got as wedding gifts, or the Wedgwood Edme china I found at a yard sale, but the colors on the Corelle everyday wear were perfect for a Valentine set up.

Valentine tablescape 2

I was determined to spend absolutely nothing on this tablescape. I totally shopped the house to complete it. If I had had the time to shop and extra funds, I would have added some red pillar candles to the crystal candle holders or scattered some fake rose petals around the table. But I’m pretty happy with it. And the time I spent on it wasn’t in vain. We’re having out of town guests for lunch on Sunday and I plan to leave it set up for them. (minus the crystal wine glasses; I don’t want to stress all weekend!)

Valentine tablescape

(And yes, I did cheat and move the rustic coffee pot of roses from the entryway to the table!)

Do you decorate for Valentine’s Day or any of the other minor holidays? I tell you, having a blog is very motivating. I used to be lucky to get my pumpkins out before October 30th!

bed from text

I am so excited to show you pictures of THE bed! First, let me give you some back story.

One summer while I was in college, the university I attended offered me a job. I was thrilled because I’d be working in the development department (fundraising) instead of the insurance data entry job I’d had the summer before. The only problem was that I attended a school 600 miles away from home and the job didn’t pay enough to cover housing. The university helped me line up a string of house sitting jobs to cover the summer.

The first house (I wish I could find a picture of it, because I did take one from the outside.) was pretty much my dream home. It was a little farmhouse out in the country with lots of acreage. The husband and wife had a dog and a cat, and they were renovating the house. They had great taste in decorating which was so much fun to be around. I’d never even noticed decor before that house. My favorite part, however, was the bed. It was very high. So high it was hard for me to get into it!

Fast forward to about 18 months ago. I was browsing around on Craigslist (dangerous thing to do!), and I saw a bed that was very similar to the bed in my dream house. It was so high it came with a two step step stool to get into it. And the posters. Oh the posters were gorgeous. The price was $100 for the bed, two nightstands, the step stool and a desk. I decided to respond immediately and ask dh about it later.  Unbelievably, I was the first to respond!! Dh did raise an eyebrow because the bed was a queen size, and we currently had a full. I told him it was my dream bed and I was fine with it living in the cellar until we could afford new mattresses.

He went to pick it up and the guy actually only charged him $80 because he had some trouble taking the bed apart and had caused a little minor damage. He brought it home and although I loved it immediately, we put it straight into the cellar. Not only was it a queen size but it was so high it wouldn’t really work in our bedroom in the rental we had. The posters would have been in the way of the ceiling fan and would have been only inches from the ceiling which would have overwhelmed the room.

I was so excited to get transferred to Florida because my poor bed could finally come out of the cellar. We didn’t even take our old bed but bought new mattresses when we got here. The day before we got the mattresses, I tried to put the bed together. I got a little nervous when I noticed parts of it were nailed together. One of the guys from our new church is very good at things like this so I gave him a call and asked if he would mind taking a look. He came and worked on it a while and said that it would need a bit more work because it was in pretty bad shape. In fact, he wasn’t sure it was salvageable. He came back with a big time clamp and glued parts of it and then finally took it to his own house to work on it.

About a week later, his wife texted me this picture:

bed from text

He was able to repair it!! Happy day!! And it fits just fine in this big ole Florida house. I am thrilled with it. Here’s how it looks like set up in the master bedroom.

And here’s the step stool we have to use to climb into it:

The white duvet cover came from Bed, Bath and Beyond. The turquoise pillows and bedskirt were given to me by the wife of the gentleman that repaired the bed. The throw pillows are the same that were on the bed in New York.

poster bed side view

poster bed pillow view

Look at these amazing legs!

poster bed leg view

I’m also thrilled to report that I’m learning a little more about using my camera on manual. These photos were taken on manual because the light coming in from the window was way too bright on auto. Here’s the difference:

Auto –

Manual –

poster bed no tweaking

Thank you so much to Tom for his hard work in putting the bed back together! Now to unpack some Christmas boxes!!

cedar chest

You may remember that a couple of months ago I bought an antique dresser off Craigslist and picked up this cedar chest for $15 from the same seller:

cedar chest

It wasn’t really my style but I thought it looked like an easy piece to refinish and perhaps I could re-sell it for a profit.

It was in pretty good shape. The lid was a little rough:

cedar chest top

And I didn’t care for the handles. I removed all the hardware and worked on the lid first. I sanded it down and applied a light stain. It looked terrible!

Next, I threw some dark stain on top and it didn’t help much.

I googled and researched and realized I was going to have to venture into the world of furniture stripping. I actually had a can of stripper on hand but couldn’t get it open. I tried and tried and got so frustrated that I walked over to my local Ace Hardware and bought a different version. I didn’t buy the original stripper from Ace or I would have asked them to tell me how in the world to open the can. I could have still asked them for help opening the can. I’m sure they would have been happy to tell me the trick. But I was nervous about this stripper anyway. It sounded very harsh and dangerous to use. I had heard about a safer option that could even be used indoors. So I bought that and an empty paint can to put it in while I worked.

It was pretty easy to use. I brushed it on with a chip brush and scraped it off with a plastic scraper. It took two applications to get it down to the raw wood.

Next I applied wood conditioner and then three coats of Rustoleum furniture stain in dark walnut. I finished it with two coats of clear poly and was in love!

The base of the chest sat around in the office during this time:

When I finally got to it, I gave it a light sanding and painted with Behr Premium in Moon Rise. Even though I used the premium with built in primer, I had to apply three coats. I finished with two coats of clear poly.

Originally, I planned to fill in the holes where the drawer pulls were and leave them off. But the chest looked a little naked without them. Instead of scrapping them altogether, I decided to spray paint them with Rustoleum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze color.

Finally, yesterday morning, I was able to put it all together. I LOVE how it turned out. My oldest son surprised me by stating that he thought it looked awesome. He usually doesn’t comment much unless I ask so I was very pleased. My daughter, who usually loves everything I do, didn’t care for the look!

And for the before and after:

cedar chest curvy

And for the before and after:

Cedar Chest Reveal

I’m not sure yet if this piece is making the trip with me to Florida. I am definitely more attached to it now that I’ve spent so much time with it. Do any of you have trouble letting go of pieces you re-finish? I sold a toy chest a few days ago that I had painted and it was so hard watching it get carried out the door! So silly, I know!!